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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, December 02, 1951, Image 173

Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1951-12-02/ed-1/seq-173/

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Walt Kelly with one of his Sunday "Pogo" drawings.
Albert Alligator and Pogo Possum en route to The Star.
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By Philip II. Lov«*
kkATVRE k.DITOR Ok Tllk STAR
tto000 fans. relax:
1. Your favorite comic
still is being drawn by its
originator, Walt Kelly. The
strange names signed to it
lately are only a test.
Cartoonist Kelly, it seems,
has developed an inferiority
complex in relation to the
characters he draws for The
Star and about 270 other
newspapers.
‘ Millions of people know
Pogo," he points out. “Mil
lions know Albert the Alliga
tor, Churchy La Femme the
Turtle. Beauregard the Houn'
Dog, Howland Owl, Deacon
Mushrat, even the lowly
caterpiggles. But hbw many
of those people know that
Pogo and his pals are drawn
by Walt Kelly? Why. I’ll bet
you could sign any name to
the strip and nobody would
ever notice it!"
That’s why Pogo has been
carrying such improbable
signatures as Moron Mundy.
Tuppence Happenny. Crib
bage Moonbeam and Pres.
Wm. J. Bryan. But Mr.
Kelly has lost his bet. At
this writing, five readers of
The Star have phoned to ask
what has become of him and
his syndicate reports similar
inquiries from readers of
other papers.
“If Walt Kelly has been
fired," one of The Star's call
ers said, “somebody's head
needs examining. It just isn’t
right for anybody else to be
drawing Pogo."
Actually, it is extremely un
likely that any one else could
do the job satisfactorily.
Pogo is the product of a sense
of humor that is peculiar to
Mr. Kelly
The last time the cartoon
The cartoonist's children, Carolyn, Peter and Kathleen, enjoy a preview
Lst was in Washington, he and
Ills wife Stephanie visited my
home. They were expected at
8:30 p.m., but didn't show up
until 10:40. "The cab driver
got lost,” Walt explained "He
followed my directions."
Something that Walt said
seemed to irritate his wife.
"What did you say?" she de
manded. He shrugged. "I
don't know. I just went olT
and left my mouth running."
The Kellys were hardly well
settled in their seats when the
doorbell rang. "That must be
the cab driver," Walt said. "I
told him to come back at
11:15.”
Walt followed me to the
door. "We're not ready to go
yet,” he told the driver. Then,
to me: “He's a good fellow.
Phil. Why don't you invite
him in?" -
bo tne hacker came m and
stayed until 1 a.m.
“Are you a reader of the
comics?” Walt asked him.
The cabbie said he was and
Walt wanted to know what
strip he liked best. "Dick
Tracy," was the disillusioning
answer.
I told the driver about Pogo.
"Never heard of it," he said,
“but I’ll sure read it from
now on. Is it anything like
Dick Tracy?"
When the time came to go.
the taximan said: "Mr. Kelly,
my wife will never believe
what happened to me. I was
supposed to be home by mid
night. To prove where I’ve
been, will you please give me
your autograph?”
"Gladly," Walt responded
He drew a card from his
pocket, wrote on it and
handed it to the driver
“Thank you, sir,” the cab
man said. Then he glanced
at the card. "Why. this says
‘Dick Tracy!’”
"A slip of the pen," Walt
laughed. "Sorry.” He signed
another card and gave it to
the hacker.
Walt Kelly was born in
Philadelphia in 1913 and the
family moved to Bridgeport.
Conn., about two years later.
In high school, he was associ
ate editor of the student
newspaper and illustrator of
• the yearbook. His first job
was wrapping bundles of
scrap cloth in an underwear
factory; the next, smashing
faulty switches in an elec
trical appliance plant He
also worked as a clerk in an
artists’ supply store and as
a public welfare investigator.
Mr. Kelly entered newspa
per work as a reporter in
Bridgeport, but soon turned
to cartooning. He tried free
^ lancing in New York for a
' while, then went to Holly
wood as an artist for the Walt
Disney Studios.
It was in 1942, after his
return to New York to work
for a publisher of comic mag
azines, that he conceived the
idea oi me feature mat even
tually became Pogo. A swamp
beside his home in Darien,
Conn., suggested the setting
and he decided to have the
characters talk the Florlda
Oeorgia “cracker" dialect in
which his father liked to tell
funny stories. The elder
Kelly had picked up the lingo
on visits to the South.
The feature began as a
comic magazine. The prin
cipal character was a colored
boy named Bumbazinc. and
an alligator and an opos
sum were in the supporting
cast. After a while. Mr. Kelly
decided he liked the alligator
and the possum better than
the boy. He named the 'pos
sum Pogo and promoted him
to the starring role, advanced
the alligator to a more im
portant part as Albert and
fired Bumbazine.
Pogo made its debut as a
daily strip in the short-lived
New York Star. When the
paper died, Mr. Kelly re
ceived hundreds of letters
demanding that the comic be
published in one of the other
New York dailies. He took-the
letters and samples of the
strip to Robert M. Hall, pres
ident of the Post-Hall Syndi
cate, Inc. Mr. Hall persuaded
the New York Post to carry
the comic and began trying
to sell it to papers in other
cities.
Now Mr Kelly's weekly in
come from the daily and Sun
day feature alone is in four
figures and he still does three
comic magazines a year a»)d
considerable commercial art
work. Also, a collection of
his daily strips recently was
published in book form
Mr. Kelly is tall, dark and
good-looking, with brown
eyes, black hair and match
ing mustache. Black-rimmed
glasses and a huge black cigar
or a pipe complete the en
semble. He works at home,
quite often, with his three
children—Kathleen, 7; Caro
lyn, 5, and Peter, 3—watching
every stroke of his pen.
"When they laugh,” their
father says, "I know the strip
is really funny.”

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